Welcome to the first edition of Sunday Best! Since I allegedly am a blogger, I have decided to blog, at least on Sundays, or at least most Sundays, or at least a few. And by blog, I mean link to the best things I’ve read this week. Sort of like What I’m Into: Weekly Edition. Because if I can’t even keep up with monthly recaps, I definitely should increase expectations!
SUPER SERIOUS STUFF
The conclusion of Banned Book Week seems like a fitting time to recall Sherman Alexie’s homage to “bad” stories, Why the Best Kids Books are Written in Blood. Alexie was responding to the #YAsaves hubbub a couple years back, but the commentary remains insightful. Growing up in Plugged In evangelicalism, I heard plenty of books deemed unworthy for Good Christian Children, not just because of plainly absurd charges like sorcery (Harry Potter was a known minion of Satan; the jury was out on Narnia) or kissing (Harry Potter was a known sexpot), but also because of vague complaints like girls acting too independent and the ambiance being too grim. Sure, some books are age-inappropriate, and some children are especially sensitive, but that doesn’t mean parents and teachers universally should sugarcoat the realities of life. Like Alexie points out, many teenagers have already experienced the sort of content that adults wants to protect them from reading about, and those that haven’t could benefit (for instance, by learning empathy) from well-told dark stories. I can’t imagine the cultural and emotional deficit I’d have now if all I’d read as a youth was Lois Gladys or Beverly Lewis and missed out on Alexie and Laurie Halse Anderson and Maya Angelou and so many, many others whose works are outright banned in school districts or merely not allowed in Christian households. “It’s important to understand multiple perspectives on the world,” as one professor put it.
My dad didn’t own a shotgun (and I turned out just fine) at Accidental Devotional: What if instead of teaching girls to guard their sensitive Eve-hearts behind patriarchal protections and parental interference, we taught them to respect and trust themselves? Novel idea, right? Apparently Abby Norman’s dad did just that, and whaddaya know, his daughters did okay making their own decisions, despite their female disadvantage.
Slate makes the case for U.S. involvement in the ebola outbreak in America in Africa, a brief history of the turbulent colony established by the American Colonization Society, which transplanted around 20,000 free Blacks from U.S. soil to West Africa in the early 19th century. I remembered a little of this, maybe from school, but if so, it was only mentioned in passing. Yet another horrible way white people perpetrated inequality against fellow Americans, and its ripple effects in Liberia.
NOT SO SERIOUS STUFF
Wet dogs: They look better than they smell. Wired hosted a hilarious slideshow of drenched and flummoxed pups.
How to Tell if You’re in a Charles Dickens Novel: Every few weeks, The Toast sucks me into its vortex of weird brilliance. Mallory Ortberg, unimpeachable feminist absurdist hero, strikes again in this entry, with snappy lines like “The only thing more evil than a headmaster
is a landlord.” Read the whole series for parodies of Austen, Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, MFA students, and the like.
I have only bought a handful of items from Out of Print Clothing, most as gifts, and I have yet to be disappointed. I bought one of their tote bags recently, and I love it. It’s big enough to hold my regular purse stuff and work lunch on the bus or to be used as an overnight bag, but not so large as to feel conspicuous or ungainly. (Some of the stitching on one of the handles is a bit loose, which is annoying, though easily fixable.) The Moby Dick and Little Women totes are also adorable.
What were the best things you read this week?